Living With Consequences Can We Choose Them?

By: Benjamin Norman "Think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths." ~Proverbs 3:5-6 School's out for most of us and I know how fearful people (including me) are about pop tests. But don't worry, this one isn't graded. Here's the first and only question: What do Lot, the thief on the cross, and a pregnant 16 yr. old girl have in common? They're all people? Who knows? Who cares? Those may be a few of your answers. Well, let's check. At first glance, it may seem that this trio has nothing in common. But if you really think about it, you'll find that they all have something in common: the thread of consequences. You're probably like, "AND? The point is?". Well, the point is, you'll find that same thread in your own life. Here's the moral of this story. I'm going to give it to you right here at the beginning. Pay very careful attention to it though, because this simple lesson could save you a lifetime of heartache. The lesson is: You are free to choose what decisions you will make, but you are not free to choose the consequences that come with those choices. Think back to the Old Testament story of Abraham and Lot. You will read in Genesis 13 that Abraham and Lot were traveling together. They weren't traveling alone either. They had their families, servants, every little thing they owned, and a whole bunch of livestock. When they finally found a good stopping point, they discovered the land was not big enough "for the two of them", their families, animals, & possessions. So while they're looking at these two pieces of land, Abraham told Lot to choose which one he'd like to have. Abraham didn't want to fight or argue and was okay with taking the plot of land Lot didn't choose. So Lot really looked over his choices. All he could see was the physical beauty of the Jordan Valley, which contained the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Without much thought, Lot quickly selected that land as his home. His troubles began right away. The people of that land were very evil (Genesis 13:13). They worshiped idols and committed sexual sin so filthy that God felt compelled to take drastic action to wipe them from the earth completely! Lot and his wife had to run for their lives (literally). Lot's wife, in her final act of disobedience, looked back to the sinful city (that she had grown so accustomed to) and was turned into a pillar of salt! Lot's choice to live in that land had certainly come with a price. So what does all that mean to you? What does that Old Testament Bible story have to say about your life and the way you choose to live it? Was Lot really such a bad guy? Was he any worse than you or me? Those are all good questions, and there really aren't all that many easy answers. In 2 Peter 2:7, Scripture describes Lot as righteous. Yet Lot had a knack for making poor choices. As a result, he suffered terrible consequences. He lost his daughters, his home, and even his wife. These losses were a direct result of his

poor choices. What about the thief on the cross? The Bible tells us that he asked Christ for salvation as he was dying. Jesus said to him "Today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). We know that according to this verse, the thief was saved at that moment and went to heaven. Yet his brief appearance in the Bible proves the lesson already stated about consequences: You are free to choose what decision you will make, but you are not free to choose the consequence that come with that choice. When Jesus gave slavation to the thief, what happened next? Did He take him down from the cross? Did He clear his criminal record? Did He let him go back to his wife and kids to live happily ever after? NOPE. The thief was saved, then he died. He had lived a life of sin and criminal activity. The law required him to be put to death. Though Jesus forgave him for those sins, the thief was still bound to the consequence that came with the choices he had made throughout his life. Please understand that forgiveness is always available to you when you sin. Jesus is ready to forgive you, but even when you recognize your sin, repent, and seek His forgiveness, there may still be some leftover consequences from the sinful decisions you've made. Even though it would be nice, being forgiven doesn't make the consequences of sin disappear! Those examples are well and good, but how does this idea play out in the real world today? Well, take Jennifer and Stephen, two Christian teens, for example. Jennifer is 16, and Stephen just turned 17. They have been dating for almost a year and have stayed very active in church the whole time. But lately, they have been going too far physically. They've chosen to spend a lot of time in Jennifer's bedroom together when her parents aren't home. They'd been walking that fine line for a while, but one day things went too far. They had sex for the first time. They were both pretty shaken afterward, and things chilled out pretty quickly after that. Neither of them went into the relationship expecting or planning for this to happen. Now both of them just want to forget it ever did. But a few weeks later, Jennifer realized that she was pregnant. A visit to the doctor confirmed it. Jennifer couldn't believe this was happening. She'd only had sex one time and she didn't even want to do it that much. It had just kind of happened! And she'd been embarrassed and deeply sorry for what she did. How could she be pregnant? It just didn't seem right? And it wasn't fair, that's for sure! Sobbing, she told Stephen the news that would change their lives forever. Because they were both Christians, they knew they had to make things right with the Lord. That Sunday at church, they knelt at the altar together and confessed the sin they had committed. Despite their embarrassment and regret, they asked God to forgive them. As students of Scripture, we know that when we truly seek forgiveness from God for our sin, He forgives us. But He doesn't take the consequences away. Even though Jennifer and Stephen have realized that sex outside of marriage goes against God's standards and have sought forgiveness for their actions, it won't make her pregnancy go away. Not only will she still be pregnant, but they both will face unbelievable emotional heartache, embarrassment, and the shame that comes from sin. They have complicated the rest of their lives with one poor choice. You make choices every day. What to wear, what to say, what to eat. Do you wear that short skirt that draws every guy's attention to you (and your legs) or the

modest skirt? Do you take time to study God's Word and seek His will in your life, or do you put it off again? Do you study for the science exam or try to wing it? Life is full fo choices. Every day we face them, from most mundane choices to life-changing moments. Making a choice is a lot like picking up a log. A log has two ends, and when you pick it up, you have to take both ends. Choices also have two ends. One end is the choice, and the other is the consequence that comes with it. You can't get one without the other. You might want what's on the end closest to you (Lot did!), but you may not always want what's on the other end. That's why it is so important to make wise choices that are based on biblical principles. You can't pick up a log and leave one end on the ground, and you can't make a decision and leave off the consequence that comes with it. Some consequences are good (like doing well on a test you've studied), and some are bad (like letting your teeth rot out because you don't brush them). The consequences you will face all depend on your ability to make wise choices. So can we choose our consequences? In a roundabout way, yes, we can! We choose them by the dozens of other choices we make each day. The Bible is full of stories of people who did things the right way and experienced positive consequences. Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Daniel, Ruth, and Rahab are just a few. It's also filled with those who did not make wise choices and suffered terrible consequences as a result. It's great to know God will forgive us when we fail, but it's better to get His help first and make the wise choice from the start! The good news is that you have the opportunity today to choose wisely and build a fantastic life that God will honor by making wise choices. The next time you have a choice to make, consult the Lord first and begin with the end in mind. Prayer: Dear God, I come to you today and lift up every single person who reads this. My prayer is that they will make a commitment to honor You by making wise choices by consulting You beforehand. I pray that they would confess any sin to You and ask for Your help in dealing with the consequences. I pray that every thing they do, Lord, will bring forth the positive consequences made possible only by wise choices. Thank you for being our Guidance, Lord. It's in Your name I pray, AMEN! (This article came from a monthly magazine titled "ec" or "essential connection", May 2007 issue, pg. 42-44. Article has been slightly edited for better understanding. End prayer is mine.)